Texts and Human Experiences… it’s a little dry.

This term I have a new Year 12 class, and a new HSC syllabus to teach, all heading towards a new HSC exam. Fun times, hey? TBH, when the new English syllabus came out I was pretty excited. I love new things, and I love change… I thought for sure that this term I would be loving teaching Year 12. Unfortunately, that’s not (so far) been my experience. I can’t decide what the reason is… I guess there are a few: I’ve just come back to work after an epic family trip to Japan (so my head maybe isn’t in ‘the game’), I’m teaching a program that I didn’t write (so I don’t have that buzz of implementing something I’ve created), the start of the module is sort of boring because it’s too general and not connected to a text (we don’t start 1984 until week 4, so mostly it’s just reading tasks which are awful to teach), and the new module is just a bit ‘meh’. I don’t know… it’s so broad, it just feels uninspiring. They may as well have called it ‘write about stuff’… or maybe I’m just being boring? I’ve tried to make it more interesting (for me at least), by introducing students to existentialism and suggesting that a better title for the module would be ‘human existence’ because then we can start to get into interesting stuff like living authentically, contemplating the absurdity of life, and accepting personal responsibility for life’s meaning. Even still, we have to bring it way back down again when looking at the sample HSC reading task, which is just plain bleurgh.

I worry for my students because of all the changes, and how, as teachers, we need to make sure they feel confident and not daunted by the fact that they don’t have the safety net of their older peers. It’s not easy for them knowing they are the ‘guinea pigs’. I’ve tried to focus on organisation – giving them all plastic document folders to keep in class with all of their notes and booklets. I’ve tried to make things fun by getting them to choose a song about a human experience (answer = literally any song in the world) to add to a class Spotify playlist. I’ve tried to make the module focused on exploring new literature by bringing in a huge bag of books for them to pick short texts out of for their related texts. I’m trying to convince myself that there is continuity between the awesome learning we did together in Year 11 (for which I think the syllabus was quite lovely) with what seems to me is going to be a pretty dull (but also anxious) HSC year.

I’m sure things will pick up as we get into studying 1984 together, given that Orwell is one of my literary idols, and the novel is one of my very favourites. Well, that is until we get to essay-writing which will be dull because they are essays written just for an HSC exam. Urgh, it’s so hard to teach a novel for the HSC because it just gets reduced to 12 quotes and some conceptual statements. Sigh. Anyway, this was not a very exciting blog post, and apologies to those two or three of you who have taken the time to read it. I just needed to write out this ‘meh’ feeling… I’m sure by the beginning of Week 4 it’ll be gone, replaced by my joy at meeting my old mate Winston Smith again.


6 thoughts on “Texts and Human Experiences… it’s a little dry.

  1. You never cease to inspire me. And your Y12 students, no matter how dull the syllabus feels, will love how you deliver it. I have no doubt about that!

    • Really? You are too kind! I feel so sapped of creativity at the moment, but it has been a big year and I am excited about the year ahead, so that has to be a good thing! x

  2. I think it would be useful to look at the Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM) here, if for no other reason than to record your experience with the new curriculum as an example of a human experience when faced with change. I am referring moreso to the ‘Levels of Use’ aspect of this model, which articulates the stages of adoption. A new user cannot expect to move so quickly from the ‘mechanical’ stage (Making changes to better organise use of the innovation) to the refinement stage (Making changes to increase outcomes) without passing through the ‘routine’ (making few or no changes to generate an established patter of use). Routine is rarely palatable for innovators like yourself, however, it is necessary to enable future adaptions.
    I hope this is helpful…you are the role model for many other teachers so we can’t have you feeling ‘meh’ for too long : )
    P.S. Love the idea of a class Spotify playlist.

    • Hey Jo! That sounds cool! I really just seem to suck at routines, even though I try! Thanks for your kind words too… I don’t feel like a role-model, I just feel tired! Gotta keep going though, kids don’t need boring and tired teachers!

  3. I am totally with you. I am finding the unit uninspiring in light of its broadness. Thanks for sharing some of your fun ideas; I’m at a selective school and the fun stuff often gets shunted for ‘rigour’. But creating a playlist on a Friday is perfect! šŸ™‚

    • I’m trying to bring the fun back to my classes… will make it a priority for the remainder of the term. I want my classes to be memorable, because loving literature is so important – much more important than the silly HSC! x

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